Trash talking: How Patrick Dovigi built Green For Life into a waste empire


Canada’s king of garbage is, at this moment, standing shin-deep in the stuff. Patrick Dovigi, the CEO of GFL Environmental—the fourth-largest waste management company in North America—clambers over a pile of stained mattresses, crushed plastic bottles and rotting wood at the company’s waste transfer station in northwest Toronto. Dovigi may be doing all this for a photo shoot, but as he hops into the bucket of a front-end loader and gestures with upturned hands for the driver to lift him higher—higher, he signals—it’s clear this is a man very much in his element, foul-smelling as it may be. Never mind that his brown suede shoes seem utterly ruined, that there’s a smear of white sludge across the back of his black sweatshirt, or that in less than half an hour, he’s scheduled to meet with an executive at one of GFL’s largest investors, the $190-billion Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. “It’s okay,” Dovigi says of the stains. “This is the garbage business.”

It’s unlikely any of his investors would complain about a bit of trash. Outside the world of tech unicorns, few companies in Canada have grown so massive, so fast.

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